Jointing without a jointer

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Blog entry by Brokewood posted 1475 days ago 7384 reads 3 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hi everyone,
I seem to have bitten off more than I can chew. I’ve decided to build a coffee table for my living room,
I’ve made plans and all – I went and bought the lumber, even had it planed and ready to go.
Thing is, I forgot to ask them to run it through a jointer… Now, I can always swallow my pride, go back and ask them to use their jointer but I kind of don’t want to.
I’ve decided to make this into a learning experience and try jointing without a jointer.
Now the only thing missing is… how the heck do I do this?
I’ve got a long straight ruler, handplane, belt sander, orbital sander and two peices of lumber I want to join.
Any advice would be great!

15 comments so far

View patron's profile


13017 posts in 1973 days

#1 posted 1475 days ago

take a straight board ,
and clamp it to your work .
run a flush trim bit (with a bearing) ,
and a router .
should do the job .

we did this all the time in boat work ,
as only some parts needed to be straight ,
(cabinet fronts and tables) .
mark where you want the straight to be ,
and align the straight edge to it .
make multi-passes if the grain is against you .

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Kerry Drake's profile

Kerry Drake

163 posts in 1652 days

#2 posted 1475 days ago

You can clamp the two boards together with the edges needing to be joined facing up and use your hand plane to match there edges. Using this method it doesn’t matter if they are perfectly straight, because each board will be a mirror image of its mate and they should go together seamlessly.

-- Kerry Drake, Loudon NH,

View chrisstef's profile


10694 posts in 1638 days

#3 posted 1475 days ago

You can place them side by side together and run your circular saw down the middle (where they meet together), and once again it doesnt matter if its dead straight because with the width of the blade you cshould cut both boards.

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

View nailbanger2's profile


959 posts in 1775 days

#4 posted 1475 days ago

David’s idea sounds good. We used to snap a line along the edge, measure 1.5” inward and make two marks on either end. Clamp a straight edge on those marks and run a circular saw against it. This was in the field, and not considered fine woodworking, but add biscuits and a lot of sanding it was passable.

-- Wish I were Norm's Nephew

View Will Stokes's profile

Will Stokes

262 posts in 1986 days

#5 posted 1475 days ago

Yeah, I was going to suggest either a router table, or easier still you can do it on a table saw after a fashion. First lay your board on your table saw so it bows toward the fence (and won’t wobble). Then place a long straight board between the board you’re jointing and the fence. You’ll use this 2nd board as a sliding flat surface. This way the jointed board won’t rotate as it moves past the end of your table saw fence. Joint one side. For the other side you won’t need the auxilliary board since you have a jointed face to go up against your fence. If this is confusing see here:

View Joe Watson's profile

Joe Watson

315 posts in 2178 days

#6 posted 1475 days ago

there were some jointer tips in this video

lots of ways you can joint an edge without a jointer.

-- Got Wood?

View BreakingBoardom's profile


615 posts in 1713 days

#7 posted 1475 days ago

Do you have other tools? As most of the Jocks here mentioned, the two easiest ways are to do it with a router or a tablesaw. Do you have either of those?

-- Matt -

View miles125's profile


2179 posts in 2637 days

#8 posted 1475 days ago

Draw a straight line and cut it on your bandsaw.

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View Brokewood's profile


27 posts in 1652 days

#9 posted 1475 days ago

Man I love this community…
Thanks for all the great tips so far!
I do have a router, I think that’s what I’ll try – sounds simple enough.
No bandsaw though, and my tablesaw is on the fritz, so the router will have to do.
Although Will’s advice with the handplane could be nice too.
I’ll be sure to post what I did and how it turned out!

View swirt's profile


1937 posts in 1604 days

#10 posted 1475 days ago

For a coffee table, if your bench plane is a #5 or higher, you could joint the edge with that just fine.

-- Galootish log blog,

View Viktor's profile


447 posts in 2050 days

#11 posted 1475 days ago

First, do what patron said, then follow with what Kerry Drake said.
Just a router or table saw, will not be enough for a seamless furniture grade joint.

View Div's profile


1653 posts in 1572 days

#12 posted 1475 days ago

Hey guys, what about jointing with a #7 jointerplane, the way it is supposed to be done and the quickest. Oh, I guess you don’t have a #7!
I will still go with what swirt said! It is quick, smells good and it is quiet!

-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."

View Jordan's profile


1358 posts in 1757 days

#13 posted 1472 days ago

I’m glad you asked that as I sold my jointer before I moved, so I’ve been wondering the same thing at times.


View Vercingetorix's profile


2 posts in 572 days

#14 posted 572 days ago

I know this is an old thread, but for reference, here's a good video demonstration of the jointer plane technique.

View PurpLev's profile


8476 posts in 2280 days

#15 posted 572 days ago

router and a trim bit is fast , but if you don’t have a straight edge reference it won’t produce what you want. more so, depending on how narrow your workpiece is it could be a less than safe operation free handed.

considering what you stated in the original post, I would go with the #5:

1. Clamp 2 boards that you want to joint face to face with the edges to joint on top in your workbench.
2. Using the #5 joint/flatten the top edges at the same time
3. Take the boards and flip one of them end-for-end, and place joint edge against joint edge. any errors that you might have had with the angle during jointing would cancel itself out since both edges were done at the same time.
4. Glue, and clamp

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

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